F. X. and Bobby Pickens are half-brothers in the little town of Tula Springs, Louisiana--but they couldn't be more...

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MODERN BAPTISTS

F. X. and Bobby Pickens are half-brothers in the little town of Tula Springs, Louisiana--but they couldn't be more different. F. X. is a former actor and cocaine dealer, just out of the state penitentiary at Angola; Bobby is so prim and straight a bachelor that he thinks of himself as ""Mr. Pickens,"" the handle he goes by at the Sonny Boy Bargain Store where he is assistant manager. So, when F. X. comes to stay with Bobby in Bobby's house, disaster camps out there as well. Suddenly all of Bobby's minor sins and larcenies are deepened and confused by F. X.'s presence: Bobby, for instance, has innocently, playfully, lifted a watch belonging to the attractive young candy counter clerk, Toinette, intending to give it back to her (and thereby cutely develop a dating relationship); and, when Toinette instead falls for handsome F. X., Bobby can't give back the watch (he'd be taken for a simple thief), which means he must stand by while his half-brother uses the young girl as his ticket out of Tula Springs. Later on, a young woman-lawyer in town also falls under F. X.'s greasy spell. And, by this time, fired from the Sonny Boy, poor Bobby is all at sea--briefly entertaining notions of becoming a Baptist preacher with a new set of moral precepts befitting the upside-downed modern South. First-novelist Wilcox is good at a few special speeds of comedy here: Waugh-ian satire; farce (two men praying on their knees mistaken for homosexuals in action); and narrative deflation. (""After parking beside a flagpole Mr. Pickens walked beside a well-tended hedge of camellias, which brought spring to November with a profusion of pinks and reds, until he reached the imposing portico of bull-necked Muses lifting their blank eyes to the heavens. As he informed the nursing home's receptionist that he was there to see his mother Mr. Pickens wiped a tear from his eyes, which had been invaded by a strong whiff of ammonia."") And though a bit too slick to be fully endearing, this is smile-worthy (rarely laugh-getting) comic fiction: sophisticated, smooth, and crafty.

Pub Date: June 1, 1983

ISBN: 0807131660

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983